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|Battle for the North Part 2: The Two Airbenders|
21st March 2014
Water, Earth, Fire, Air.
For 100 years, the four nations were at war on the day the Fire Nation first attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements could stop them, but he vanished.
About three years ago, my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And after finding some allies and mastering all four elements, Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai and put an end to the war. We all set about rebuilding the world, but there is still tensions between the nations and further secret activity that Aang may not be able to stop. But I believe Aang can.
Everyone was still on edge. With the north gone and us stranded out upon the cliffs for four days, we never thought we'd be here that long. I hate the cold so very much. My feet freeze so often I sometimes wish I could just cut them off and be down with them.
The fires were raised daily, but they would go out as quickly as they rise. Heat would be snuffed out in an instant. I have heard people calling it cruel irony that instead of being burned alive by Fire Nation soldiers, that they would freeze to death while running from their own countrymen. I don't, I call it really unlucky.
What was more unlucky was Aang; Twinkle Toes wasn't able to get into the Avatar State at all. Something about his concentration lacking or something, I lost interest when he carried on talking about . . ., well when he just carried on talking. That was all he did, all talk and no smashing anyone to the ends of the earth.
Eventually the snow was so deep that it didn't matter whether I wrapped my feet up or not, I couldn't tell where I was at all. I stayed put so that I at least knew that I was on the cliff and not about to walk off the sides.
For the last few days, everyone left Aang alone, though I think the whole idea was to wait for him to recover and save the tribe by going into the Avatar State. But after those few days, Sokka was growing impatient, as was the rest of us.
Four days later from the retreat, Sokka finally confronted him. "Okay, so you were in throne room and you went into the Avatar State."
"Yes, Sokka!" Aang yelled back. He was still blinking, but that eventually seemed to reduce when he released some of that energy out. "I have told you a thousand times, I went in and I went glowy, okay."
Sokka's tone was growing more stressed, angry, confused? I don't know, it just didn't seem like himself. Actually considering the other times he has freaked out, this is just the same. "Yes. But what I am not understanding is: why on earth is he still sitting on the throne, and you retreated without 'Glowing Up and Blowing Up?'"
Aang anger was hitting the boiling point. "I couldn't Sokka."
"Yes you could!"
"No I . . . COULDN'T!" He dropped to his knees in pain just as his voice multiplied. The snow slammed and melted away as hit the ice beneath. There were sounds of groaning and moaning in pain coming from him. I think that was still largely due to the void messing with his whole cosmic mumbo-jumbo.
"Aang!" Katara yelled out. "Stop!"
There was a long groan that eventually died out and turned into a short sigh, followed by what appeared to be the sound of weeping. It was defiantly Aang. "I couldn't do it. That stuff, that void. I couldn't concentrate; I couldn't see, I couldn't focus. I felt blind while I could see everything happening. I was in the Avatar State, but I felt powerless. I couldn't do a thing!"
"It's okay. It's okay."
Captain Boomerang got an idea. "Wait, if you can voidbend now."
"I know. It's horrible" Aang replied.
I could imagine Sokka's face stretching, but I was really unsure how that would really look on him. "Horrible? This is the exact opposite This opens up more opportunities. You could . . ."
"Forget it" he yelled. "I'm not doing it." I really wish I could feel the ground. Not knowing what people were doing made my world really blank. All I could do was hear what people. "You spent time with Ithar. Do you know anything more about this void thing." I presumed that he was talking to Suki and Zuko, considering I didn't know, and therefore I presumed that Katara and Sokka knew just as much as me.
There was a long silence. I heard someone scratch their head, and judging from the voice that followed, it was Zuko. "Well, eh."
"You don't know!" Sokka cried out shocked.
"Ithar doesn't like talking about things" Suki replied. "He keeps himself to himself."
"Plus we only really saw him bend twice each, then he lost it. And to be honest, there is not much that we can really remember of it."
"Well, as if it would do us any good now."
"As if I would use it."
I had enough of keeping silent. I wanted in on this conversation. "What do you mean? It's just another element, you'll learn."
"No I won't."
Why was I hearing this? "Why not?"
"You know why not; Han Huang is why not."
"He was just a bad guy" Zuko added. "That doesn't mean voidbending is bad."
"How do you know about it?"
"Ithar told us" Suki continued.
"Did he mention that Han nearly killed Avatar Tzenno, your ancestor and my past life?"
"N-No" Zuko replied. "He just said he nearly conquered the world."
I heard ice crack and I presumed that it was coming from Aang. "Han nearly killed Tzenno! I won't kill anyone! I don't know what else I can do with this except to harm. I don't know if I can control it." I heard him slam back down on his
I made my way towards him, following the sound of his voice till I placed my hand on his sho- head, I meant head. "You can't."
"Toph, you're not helping" Katara told me.
"But I'm right. There is no way you could stop yourself from harming anyone. It's exactly like when I rolled that boulder at you and you flew out of the way. You couldn't stand your ground, and I told you that you couldn't be an earthbender."
Aang didn't buy it. He continued to say otherwise. He could be so suborn. I trained him well. "That is completely different in a completely different way."
"I learnt how to deal with it. I got over it and I bend that rock."
"Exactly, that's it Twinkle Toes. All it took was to learn, and you did it. I don't see what's so different?"
"You don't see at all." If I wasn't trying to help, I would have catapulted him into a tree, . . . are there any trees here? Never mind.
"Hurtful, but point taken. What's different now that you couldn't do then?"
"There's a lot more to it then that" he continued to protest.
Luckily, Katara was seeing my point, finally. "Actually, Toph is right Aang."
"She is not."
"It's exactly like when you learnt to firebend. You were so scared after burning me that you said that you would never firebend again. But you did, Zuko trained you and you learnt that fire wasn't about just destroying."
"Aang. You're a strong kid" Zuko told him. "Mastering three elements in less than a year was a challenge, but you did it. Learning one more element shouldn't be too difficult."
"You guys still don't get it; it's not just about learning another element. This is evil. There is no one who could have done something with an element like this." "What?"
"Chin the Conqueror" I replied.
"My Father, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather" Zuko added.
"Hahn" Sokka concluded.
I heard Aang sigh then slap and wipe his face. "Okay, fine. You all proved you're point. But, I got better by learning. I had great teacher like you, and you, and you. There is no one I can learn from so that I can master it."
"Well," I said, "there is one. The only problem is," I pointed out to where I hoped was the direction to the tribe, "he is lying unconscious in the middle of a battleground."
The following afternoon, after we managed to convince Aang that this was the right thing to do. We sat down and we talked about what to do next. Toph got her feet heated up and I cleared most of the snow for my pouches, plus it gave Toph something to stand solid on.
When we got ourselves together, Sokka took out the map of the Northern Water Tribe and laid it out on the uncovered layer of ice. "Okay, here's the plan. Hahn and all his troops will be spent from securing the city, which gives us time to sneak in. Now to save time, it will just be us until the morning. That gives us less then six hours to get everything ready to take back the north.
When dawn breaks and the moon disappears, we will have the equal ground and no advantage from the moon will be given to them. For convenience with the limit of time, I have divided us into three teams: Me and Suki will secure the Spirit Oasis . . ."
"Why?" I asked.
My brother looked up at me with an eyebrow raised. "What do you mean why?"
"Why do we need the spirit oasis?"
"I agree Sokka" Aang added, "the moon and ocean spirits won't help. Spirits don't help, they don't interfere."
Sokka raised his hand, in front of his face. He "Just trust me on this one. Meanwhile; Toph and Zuko will take to the prison cells and free the prisoners and anyone willing to take back the city."
"Anyone?" Zuko wondered. His face was kind of screwed, which was what I think everyone was thinking the same. 'Anyone', it made little sense to ask anyone. Especially seeing as they are in prison.
There were a lot of eyes focused on him and the pressure started building. He completely "Well, you be the judge of that, and you will wait till dawn breaks before you attack. And finally, Katara and Aang will infiltrate the streets and grab Ithar. You will rally back at the oasis and hopefully Aang will be able to give him his bending."
"Sokka. I can't." Aang was still persistent as he hung his head low. I couldn't blame him, but I really think that he needed this, more than he thought he did. His self-confidence relied on this action, and he was going to take it.
Sokka got up and put his hand on Aang's shoulder. "Yes you can. And think of it this way; you already took his bending, and even if you'd do it again, you can't knock him out because he's already unconscious."
Aang looked up and looked around at all of us. We looked back with smiles of determination, and he responded with a clearing exhale, with a new sense of determination producing a smile. He stuck his hand out over the map. "Let's do this thing."
"Count me in" Zuko replied, adding his hand into the middle.
Toph followed on. "You said it."
"We're ready" Suki insisted, placing hers in as well.
I couldn't argue with popular opinion, and placed my hand on top. "All right then"
Sokka was last and he was determined to make us as enthusiastic as he was. He punched the air and cried out "boo yah! Go Team Avatar!"
Our hands dropped and our eyes rolled the moment he spoke. There was a long row of sighs as we all pulled our hands out. "Again with that name" I complained.
Sokka poked his finger into his palm. "It will catch on." We all ignored him and just looked at him in serious unamusement. "It will!"
"Don't worry, it's growing on me" Toph insisted.
Sokka's face lit up with a massive grin taking up most of his face. "Really?"
Toph smiled as she started walking away. "No." I couldn't help but snicker, along with the rest of us, hiding our grins behind our cuffed hands.
Sokka winced as his arms hung loosely at his sides. "Why do I bother?"
"It's ironic you know" Sokka said, curling round the corner on the opposite side of the street. The moon was high and full, beaming across the city. This would be the worst place in the world to be against waterbenders. Also the most unlikely
I looked around, but made sure I kept the end of the road in view. "What is?"
We shifted further down the street, keeping ourselves close to the walls and out of the light. Sokka slid himself firmly against every wall and made sure he breathed in to keep in the shadows. And at every corner he kept into the depth and used his boomerang to look around the corner. As stupid and over the top as it may have looked, I think that his method is heavily tied to experience in the southern tribe walls, or what's left of them
He pulled his boomerang back and stuck his head round. "Well you remembered to bring all your stuff with you, your gear, your uniform, even your makeup. But we forgot to bring a single person back with us."
"Sokka." He looked over as I raised my closed fist head height. I then stuck two fingers out and flipped my thumb in the direction of the road.
Sokka looked around, but he seemed clueless. I raised an eyebrow and nudged my head towards my right hand. He stared at me blankly. I turned my head like I was seeing thing. Was I seeing thing? I pointed to my right hand with my left. Sokka finally just whispered out loudly "What?"
In looked at my hand, the I explained it step by step: "Hold. Two Guys. Ahead."
"Oh!-" he said loudly, before he realized and slapped over his mouth. We both slammed against the wall keeping as tight as we could. Our breaths stretched long and as quiet as possible, but there was no sound in steps, no movement or reaction. Luckily. Sokka pulled his boomerang back out and stuck it out to look around the corner. "We can take them."
We moved closer down, this time there was only one alley between them and us, on my side. Sokka looked around and instead of doing the smart thing and waiting, he risked moving across the street to my side, then quickly clambering around in sight before reaching where I was. He was lucky there wasn't water separating either side. "You mean I can take them."
"I can still fight."
I smiled. "I know." I didn't leave much time for a response as I planned out my attack;
I used the ice to my advantage; I took a long distance run and then when I was just close enough started a low kick that turned into a slide. The slide broke through the first guys stance and he crumbled over as I carried on sliding through. Twisting before I could slide off I reached my feet and grabbed both my fans. I threw the first at the second guy and then used the second to deflect his attack. Unfolding the fan I whacked his weapon aside, and struck him under his arm for good measure. "Hyah!" I kicked him round the head to make sure he was out.
Sokka leaped in and delivered a kick, knocking the second guy in the back. I was expecting a counterattack, but Sokka had experience in stealth; hitting the guy square in the helmet several times. "Take that. You want more?"
"Shhh. We don't want to alert them."
I rolled my eyes and we carried on our way to the spirit pool. Keeping ourselves from sight, but I doubt that this would be the reason we would get caught.
No two feet deep in snow was the only option I would think was better than waiting. And reaching the prisons, I knew at least that there was no snow to drag my feet through. They had had more than their fair share of cold to last them a life time. The sooner we left, the better I would be.
Strangely for a newly conquered city, you'd think that there would have been more guards watching over the prisoners. But hey, it made the job easier;
We started with the guards on the front gates; Easy enough considering they weren't the smartest of thugs. A simple task of kicking ice across the floor to entice their interest, then make a sound that draws them in, and *BOOM* and/or *SLAM*.
Unfortunately, due to an earthbending malfunction. Guards were approaching so we had to high tail it down into the prison quickly to avoid getting caught. We ducked round the corner, and in the
"Nice job" I then punched him in the arm. I wanted to hit Sokka earlier, but I had a hard time knowing exactly where he was. Now that I was next to Zuko, I had to take it before I lost all sense of where I was again.
"Owww" he responded. I tried to clam his mouth before he alerted the whole city. But I hit him in the nose and that just made it extend. " . . . Oowwwwwwwww!"
"I am shhhhh" He protested.
The argument could have spawned, but I heard an echo of footsteps approaching our position. "Stop it. There's someone coming."
Zuko didn't have to be told twice. he knew that I was right. We could now hear them coming. "The Boxes!" he told me, grabbing my arm and pulling me behind several wooden crates.
My feet were freezing up. I dropped my, Zuko's quilt somewhere during the rush. There footsteps grew louder. Armour clanked and dragged its way through the hall, and heavy plates scrapped against the cloth. "Who's . . . is that him?" I asked Zuko, who was peering around the corner, and would have to be my eyes on this. Pun intended.
"I think so" he replied, retreating back round our cover the second he got too close to us.
The usurper continued his stroll through the hall as person after person exhaled gravelly, or hissed very quietly to not attracted his attention. He stopped in front of a cell and tapped on the bars three times. "Hello Shen" announced the Commander.
We all knew that it was Hahn beneath the mask since twinkle Toes' encounter with him. But to everyone else that didn't see his face, they only knew him as the man who took the North, including Shen. "Are you the guy? The guy they are all talking about. The Commander. C'mon man, you've got to let me out. I promise that I won't do it again." Man, he was really pulling out all the stops. It sounded very unconvincing. Unless that was the point, then whatever worked for him.
Hahn laughed under his helmet, his tone continued to be muffled and distorted as not to be recognizable. "Oh, Shen. Trying to talk you're way out as usual. I admit you have got better then trying to convince me to give you my half of the tiger seal meat; you stopped making up stories and now keep it simple."
"Who? How did . . ." At that moment, there was a click, and something clunky fell to the ground. There was a gasp, and his helmet rolled down the hall. ". . . Ha-Hahn? Brother? You're alive?"
Hahn did a short twirl, like he was trying to show himself off. "In the flesh."
"Hahn you traitor!" One prisoner yelled out, slamming the bars. His disruption started alerting the rest of the trapped people
"Treasonous lout!" another shouted.
"Overgrown Snail Sloth!" bellowed another. Thousands of disgusted responses followed until the room was
"SILENCE!" He slammed his foot down and it echoed like thunder. His words struck everyone in the room, and as he declared, it was. "I command the north!" He walked over, or maybe he stomped over, to a jail cell and there was a conflicting pull against the bars, followed by an undertone threat to whomever he grabbed. "I will have order, and there will be examples made." He threw the guy back as he hit the floor. Hahn walked into the middle of the hall, firmly standing his ground. "On the blood of many, I Will Have Order!"
Shen became restless. I could feel him gripping the bars, but his feet were really edgy like he couldn't keep still. His words started stuttering. "B-But I saw you. Yo-You went over the side. Into the w-water, you-th-they said you were dead."
His answer was cocky, but I detected a hint of maybe joy, like he was happy to be talking to his brother again. "I didn't die. I merely experienced . . . a whole new perspective in life. After I took a tumble into the water, I was left hanging onto an iceberg just floating past. I was doing alright, I was alive, till the Avatar intervened;
Fusing with La made staying in the water inhospitable. The waves crashing the ships together, and metal and ice smashing and breaking all around. I was going to die in the freezing waters if the ships didn't fall on me first.
But then I heard a voice calling to me in the winds. It came to me and told me Do you wish to live? All I could say was yes, any man would. Then before I knew it; he materialized in front of me, grabbed the scruff of my collar and I was alive.
For the next two years we gathered our forces, consolidated our plans and made infiltrations where ever possible, like our comrades in the various trade fleets; Zonshuk's, Qaniit's, even the prince had our men in his personal guard.
Then when I caught wind that there was the election I set off too late. I couldn't ask the Master to bring me here. No, he had plans for this to go off in his own time. He would never have accepted this."
I was starting to lose both feeling and the plot. I wish I didn't sit through and wait for the intermission. There was a rise in Shen's heart rate, not in the excited way though. "Do you realize what you did?"
"Of course. I have the throne. I have the tribe . . ."
"What about mum?" he interrupted. Hahn completely shut from continuing. "She was worried sick, she went into mourning and never came out. Dad left on patrol into these entire waters looking for any trace of you. He still goes out. He never came back. I don't see or hear from either of them since you fell into the water."
"Shen." There was almost a choke in his throat.
"And me!" his tone was getting louder as he drew in closer to his emotions. "I had to live without you. I thought- we thought you were dead and I had to live with that. I was always second best compared to you."
He slammed the bars and he let go of his grip. "I jumped in after you. *SLAM* Did you know that? I jumped in to the Northern Sea in the middle of an infiltration raid. I saw you fall over the edge and I jumped in after you. Right there. In the middle of the fleet. In the middle of the invasion! *SLAM* I Jumped In After You! *SLAM*" He pulled away from the bars, but it was clear that now he was crying. His breathing became more nasal. "I didn't expect it of someone like him, but at the same time, I kinda felt sorry for him. "I didn't find you. I thought you were gone. I kicked myself every night after the siege. I thought you were dead. I thought you died, and it was my fault."
I heard a guy walk down the through the corridors. He stopped in front of Hahn and there was a motion in his arm, like a salute. "Commander."
Hahn turned around and there was a body thrown against the wall. "What?"
"There is movement in the streets. There are people moving after hours. The boy from the south and the Kyoshi girl have been cited heading tot he spirit pool.
"No matter. the Spirits will not help them, even if they disagree."
"So has a boy with an arrow, we believe is the Avatar . . ."
"We saw an arrow. But we didn't know if it was . . . him." The way he said him, it made them shudder. It made me shudder (Don't tell anyone I said that. I mean it.)
Who ever it was, he must have been moving around the city. There looking for something."
Hahn tapped his foot slightly, then he stopped. If there was more feeling in my feet, I could probably have felt that tug on his eyebrow when he put the pieces together. "No doubt they are after the voidbender." He turned to his guard. "Move the body and guard it well. They will come. Eventually."
The Guard walked off, and Hahn started moving out as well, till his brother intervened. "Brother, please." Hahn stopped and turned back to his brother's cell. Shen was pressing his face against the bars and outstretching his arms through them. "Let me out of here. Please? I can help. It could be like it was before; you and me, and maybe, maybe we could be a family again. I'll do what you want, anything. Please, brother."
I felt real sincerity in Shen's words. The first time I heard his speaking, he was lying out of any part of his throat that could. But it was different. He spoke like he was actually being honest. No hesitation, no stutter. He didn't even try to elaborate or make a scene of himself. It was a buzzkill.
Hahn pressed his hands up against bars, but then pulled away and tapped the bars. "When this is over. I will come for you. I promise brother. But you're safest here. Forgive me. I'll come back. I promise." He turned away, and his footsteps vanished down the hall.
"Sokka, what are we doing here?" Suki asked as soon as we crossed the bridge.
I looked at her with my hands raised and an optimistic smile. "Just trust me on this."
"Sokka? Aang said the spirits won't help."
"She will. She has to."
"She?" Oh spirits, I shouldn't have said it like that. This was gonna bite me in the blubber, I knew it. "Yue?" Sokka . . ." Her head dropped and it just felt so bad that it was still like this. I never want to hurt her feelings.
"Please, trust me on this. I know what I am doing."
She looked back up at me, her eyes were still drawn to looking down, but she breathed in and "Okay. Give it a try."
I walked up towards the koi fish swimming in the oasis. "Hey, Yue. Can we have a talk, please?" There was no response. The fish continued swimming "Please?" I looked upon the white koi fish, but it didn't seem to notice at all. I sighed in defeat and stood back up. "I guess not." I turned around, but suddenly noticed everything turned brighter behind me. I looked back around as a celestial aura erupted from the white koi fish and a ghostly image appeared in front of me. "What? Yue."
Suki turned her head in surprise. "Yue!"
I stared up at her. She looked exactly as I remembered her; Long looped white hair, pleasant sea blue eyes like sapphires and a smile that said never be scared. There was no winds, but her dress fluttered around her. I felt like I was dreaming, like the last time I was dreaming of this place, with her. "Hello Sokka" she said, her voice echoing slightly.
looking at her, suddenly made me feel . . . guilty; not only was did I bring Suki here in front of her, remembering her last words to me being her love for me, and that I chose Suki over her in spite of saving the moon at the cost of her life. "I'm sorry. There has never been anytime that I haven't been sorry."
I dropped down with tears running down my face. "You never had anything to apologize for" She said, leaning over and picking up my chin. "I love you Sokka, and I will always love you. But I understood, and I know that you needed to let me go. When I accepted my destiny, I knew I had to let you. And I know that you need someone else to love other then me, and I know you found the person you were always meant to be with."
I turned around back to Suki. She smiled at me, and my frozen heart thawed. My fears and guilt melted away, and I smiled back. A month ago, I already made my decision, and I fully understood why. The last of my doubts vanished from my mind, and I could feel that I made the right choice. I still didn't regret it. "I know. I, always knew." I waved for Suki to come closer, which she accepted as I placed my arm over her shoulder and kiss her head. "Yue. This is Suki."
Suki was still a little shocked by all this and made a fairly awkward sounding response. "Hi Yue."
Yue continued smiling back. "Hello Suki."
Suki covered half her face with her left hand like she was trying almost to hide. "Sorry, it's just a little strange talking to your boyfriend's ex. Still, some of Sokka's jokes are difficult to laugh at." Sorry, what now?
Yue giggled, which was very hurtful. "I agree. And I must admit that his artistic skill was less then impressive." What?
"You should see his drawings." Excuse me?
"You should see his carving." WHAT?
Their laughter was starting to make me feel really uncomfortable. Suki was right it was weird. I couldn't let it carry on. "*ahem* Okay girls, I think you've had enough."
"No way, we haven't addressed your . . ."
"ANYways. Yue, are you sure that you cannot help even a little bit?"
"No it is not my place to intervene. I'm sorry both of you. But spirits remain neutral unless the circumstances directly involve us. But it is not me you need."
"What do you mean?"
Yue's voice started to echo as she gave her reply. "Through the mist and golden smoke,
a mix of soil and stoke,
face the foe was once his friend,
rise and fall to rise again."
A riddle? And it rhymed as well. Seriously what is it with spirits and the need to rhyme everything. Using my hands to demonstrate my frustration, I replied "could you provide help that wasn't a riddle?"
"I'm afraid that that is all I can help you with. The rest is up to you." Light started gathering around her and her image started to fade. I looked up as a large cloud started moving across the moon. It's light was fading just as Yue was. She gave me one smile before departing. "Good Luck." Her image evaporated into light and fell back into the white koi, then it swam back into formation with the black fish. The light died.
I turned to Suki. "What do you suppose she meant?"
"The riddle?" She scratched her head and put her hand to her chin, thinking. "Do you have any ideas?"
I pondered for a bit, until something I thought I scratched over reappeared in my head. "You know, there might be; Katara was telling me what Ni said to her . . ."
"A two headed spirit, it's a long story. Katara said that she was told about 'a king of golden mist', and that sounds a little like the 'golden smoke' and 'mist' Yue talked about. Katara said her passage was about void. So maybe, it's about Ithar?"
Suki smiled, crossing her arms. "You really impress me sometimes Sokka."
I smiled back, rather smugly. "Thank you. I do try."
"What about the rest? 'a foe once was his friend'? I don't, think that really applies."
"Ithar said he had a friend who stabbed him the back, but I don't see it being Hahn. His friend was an airbender . . ."
My eyes widened and my mind was blown. My jaw dropped and for a few minutes all that came out was a long monotones gasp. When I finally gathered the words my reply was "An airbender!"
"Sokka, what do you know?"
I pulled my fingers together across my forehead. I snapped my fingers and struck my index finger up. "I have a faint idea of who you're talking about . . ."
We opened the last of the cell doors. Taking the key from Six more guys left the cell to join the other by the entrance. I pointed it out, but they knew these passages better than I ever could. "Wait for the signal" I told them, as I told their predecessors. If they started attacking, the whole surprise at dawn would have been ruined.
Toph took her bracelet and metalbent it into a second key and helped unlock the cells on the other side of the hall. If the cells weren't made of ice, she'd probably be ripping them off in seconds. She turned the lock and swung the door to one side. Flicking her arm to her right she ordered "everyone out. This is not a drill."
"Is that everyone."
Toph 'looked around' and replied "Everyone is out."
There was a rhythmic patterned banging against the bars. I looked round as Shen continued tapping his cell bars with the back of his index finger on his right hand, while his left hung outside of the bars. He tapped out for maybe ten more times after I looked over at him. He stopped and pulled his arm back in and gripped the bars. "I'm not." He leveled his hands out like to ask why.
I stared at Toph, and she stared at the wall near Shen. I think her feet might have been freezing up again, as they were wrapped up in my quilt and were quite edgy and unable to stay firmly on the ground, which is normally odd for her. Toph pulled out her hand and sarcastically ran her finger down the palm of it. "Hmmm, According to this, you're not on the list. So . . . no way."
Shen looked around with his bottom lip hanging out. Shrugging his shoulders as he answered ". . . why not?"
I lowered both my eyebrows. "What do you mean why not? Your brother is the one who's running the dictatorship here. It wouldn't exactly be good to let you out."
"C'mon. I know my brother" he tried to convince us. "Maybe I can talk to him. He'll listen."
"He won't" Toph answered adamantly.
Shen looked down on her. "He might."
Toph put her hand on her chin and roller her eyes to look as if she was thinking. She'd been practicing coordinating her eyes in different directions. I'm not sure when or who she was doing this with to know where her eyes were going, or if she knew where up or down was, but it worked. "hhh . . . No he won't."
Shen banged the bars and stepped back, looking at the wall behind him. "How would you know anything? He's not your brother."
Toph tilted her head towards me. "He's got me there."
"I know that. We both know that. But I have sibling, and she took the entire city of Ba Sing Se. This situation we're in right now is similar to that with your brother taking this tribe. And I know that she would never have given up. Therefore I think your brother would be much the same."
"To be clear. I'm not."
After dragging Toph away with me, we walked away, to follow the direction of the prisoners, as Shen's voice yelled out from behind us. We continued on without turning our heads or stopping in our tracks. Just reaching the end of the hallway to close the door on Shen's last words: "Wait! Come Back! Let Me Out!"
We reached the tent, but as we flung open the flaps. We looked around, but Ithar's body wasn't there.
"Where is he?" I said out loud.
"I left him here. Look, his necklace." She walked over to where his stool was. His dagger was also hanging there and his trousers were there as well. (Wait, what was he wearing?)
Departing from the tent, picking up all his equipment, and trousers. We started following and tracking down the patrols in hope of clue. Listening to conversations, we learnt that Ithar's body had been moved and we tracked down where he was;
We came up to a tent with two guards . . ., well guarding, Ithar's body. They discussed plans very quietly, but I could just make out that they were about to dump his body into the water. Me and Katara both entered the tent, just as we gathered our bending. I tripped on the rug and collapsed to the ground. that was when everything broke loose.
"Oh no!" Katara cried, alerting the guards. they knocked Ithar's body into the water as they reached for their weapons. She made quick work bringing the water up and freezing in revenge for what they di to us all the last we .
I peered over the edge of the hole and I made no hesitation, I just leapt through the hole in the ice. the moment I leapt in, the cold hit me. I could see Ithar sinking, but I could also feel every nerve in my body in pain from the freezing waters. *Blink* I shook it off. I remembered what Zuko taught me. Firebending comes from the breath. I exhaled through my nose and the water around started warming up.
I kept swimming till I found Ithar's body slowly sinking. I grabbed hold of his ankle just as my breath started running out. I twisted the water and quickly rose up to the surface. I leapt up from the water with Ithar still unconscious. Katara bent the water out from his lungs and he gasped. Unfortunately, he was still asleep. I breathed in the icy air and my heat was gone. Katara turned to me and threw on her coat over me. "You're freezing."
I took it over my shoulder, but I stood up and grabbed hold of Ithar's shoulders. "No time. We need to get him to a safe place. They'll come here eventually." Katara didn't argue, she knew I was right. Taking hold of Ithar's legs we moved the body under the cover of night. (He had a set of underwear on, I put the trousers back on. No more questions.)
We reached the spirit oasis, after dragging Ithar's unconscious body through a heavily guarded city. Bending would have attracted attention and we did literally have to carry him through the city. After squeezing through the hatch while making sure we didn't whack Ithar's head passing him through, we met up with Sokka and Suki who were already there."There you are." Suki exclaimed with delight, probably getting worried that we could have gotten caught. *Blink*, oh not this again.
"What took you?" Sokka said impatiently.
"They moved him" I told him, struggling now to bring Ithar across the bridge.
"Well you've got him." Sokka cried aloud. It took him a few seconds after his reaction, before he realized that we could actually use some help moving him into the spirit oasis. He grabbed his shirt then let go flapped his hands violently. "He's wet?"
Katara rolled her eyes. "That doesn't really matter seeing as we need to get him into the spirit oasis. Now grab a limb and help us."
"But why is he wet already?"
"They tried to drown him" I replied while continuing to carry Ithar through along the path. I admit, it felt a little awkward to be saying that while we had him floating in the spirit oasis, but I didn't have time to think on it.
We got him in the middle of the oasis. Tui and La continued swimming, but they moved to the rest of the streams past the bridge. "Okay Aang do your stuff" Sokka told me. I was the only one in the oasis, with everyone else watching from the bank. I placed my hands over Ithar's neck and head. I took a deep breath. Then I . . . took a deep breath. Then I closed my eyes . . . and I . . . I took a deep breath . . . and . . . and. "Go on" Sokka persisted.
I-I, eh. *Blink* I clenched my fists and dropped them to my sides. I closed my eyes tightly and pulled my arms back in. My breathing increased to the point that I was shaking in the water. I heard a splash and Katara's arms wrapping around me, holding on tight to me. "Aang?"
I opened my eyes and slowed my breathing. "I'm okay" I reassured her as turned to her concerning expression, responding with a false smile and turning my head away before it faded. "I just . . . need to concentrate." I didn't believe myself, but with everyone on my neck I felt compelled to do it. I breathed in slowly and repositioned my hands. Closing my eyes again I tried to concentrate.
I felt my chi flowing into my hands. And it just kept building up. I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring the will to push it through. "C'mon!" The pressure was hitting me, I felt like I was getting smaller as I tried to force the energy to pass through. But it couldn't, it wouldn't. . . . I w-wouldn't. . . . I-I-I . . . shouldn't? *Blink* That blinking! I broke concentration and split the oasis in half. Drying a path right in the middle of the pool and sending the water in every direction. "It didn't work!" I reached to punch the water, but I stopped myself. Holding my hand as it shook with energy that needed to be released. I shut my eyes and airbent to the top right of my reach. I dropped to my knees and the water reached up to my central torso. I clasped my hands over my eyes. "I can't do it."
"Aang calm down!" Katara told me grabbing onto to me.
"But I can't Katara!" I told her "I keep trying, but I just can't."
"Keep trying. You'll get it eventually."
I started to get up, but I shook her arms off my shoulders and fell back on my knees before forcing myself to stand up on my own terms. "It's not just that; Voidbenders. A few months ago I thought I had mastered every element, I even learnt to bend energy itself. And now, I have information about a fifth bending element that no one has seen or heard of in half a millennium. I took this power from him, but I don't know if it's right to give it back."
There was silence. No one was giving me any answer. I stood there, as they all blankly thought for a way to answer me. But it didn't seem that any of them could. I dropped back down and looked into my hands, wiping them across my eyes. I jumped back when I saw gold dust wrapped around everywhere, all moving and hovering around Ithar, Katara, Sokka, Suki, the tree, the grass, the bridges, near to everything. After a while, it faded away, and I got my answer.
"Aang" Suki said, as I turned my head to face her. "Whether it is right or wrong doesn't matter. Ithar risked his life saving me and Zuko on several occasions. He did it all without bending. He gave that up and it was unwillingly blocked from his usage. But he showed time and time again to be resourceful enough to still save people. "
I was still unsure. I looked back at him, and I still couldn't see myself doing it. I didn't know if I could trust to give it back to him.
Do you know that he lived in complete solitude for years. In another world. He came out, to save you. I have spent the last months travelling with him, and I trust him. If Zuko was here, I'm sure he would agree with me. You can trust him."
"Thought you could use a hand." She smiled and I smiled back. With this new found set of confidence, I breathed in and I concentrated my chi into my hands, passing against Katara's hands.
I felt the energy flowing through me and I felt a jolt pass though me. At the instant, Ithar woke up, shot sitting straight up. "*gasp*huff*huff*"
"Ithar?" I exclaimed.
I looked around as he was rubbing his face in water. "Morning?" He looked up to the sky a bit confused. "Is it morning?"
"If I was sleeping for a month" Sokka intervened, "the first thing I would ask is breakfast."
We all stared at him and his inhumorous response. Sokka backed away from intervening again. Ithar looked around in utter confusion. "Why are . . .?"
"The north is under siege" Katara explained. She put her hand on his shoulders and tried to get him to lay down. "You need to rest."
He refused to go down. "Where is he?"
"Who?" Suki asked.
"I know who is in charge. He's here."
"Chill out" Sokka told him. "We all know Hahn is leading this, and that's . . ."
Ithar's eyebrows rose, wiping the water from his face. "Who? No. The airbender. He's here. Where is he?"
Did I just hear that right? Katara heard it. Sokka showed some form of reaction, but it wasn't as large as ours. Suki didn't react at all then she already was, like she already knew. I looked to Katara and she shrugged her shoulders to me. I looked back at Ithar as he unsteadily tried to push himself off his backside. "Airbender? What are you talking about?"
Ithar stood up and stretched his arms out. He stopped and looked at his palms, rotating them while pivoting in one spot. He looked back up at us, the at me primarily. "Hang on . . ." Ithar clasped his hands together, exhaling slowly. Shutting his eyes he moved his arms out, and slowly pulled them in again.
I watched as his fingers twitched ever so finely and golden light started appearing around his hands. He kept his feet light and moved them around in the pool while his hands gathered up more void. Then, after several long seconds of building up void, in a split second, Ithar's eyes shot open and he slammed his foot down firmly against the ground, thrusting his arm forward, he chopped the air and the void swept from his hand and burst into ground in front of him before vanishing into dust and gone in a flash.
He turned back to us, all in awe at our, at least mine, Sokka and Katara's, first real witness to the bending of void. With the sun rising behind him, he continued asking "now, please. Could you tell me, Where, Is, He?"
The sun rolled over the horizon, and the wait was finally over. I pulled my dao swords and kicked the gate down. "Charge!" I yelled as the cry of hundreds of cries replied: "Take back the city!"
We all stormed the streets and canals of the city. With the moon gone, the waterbenders had no advantage anymore against us. And the sun gave me the advantage of fire;
I concentrated the heat into my palms, and used it to cut off most of the bridges and focused the bulk of the usurpers men at arms and make their numbers lose the advantage.
Toph was lost without her seismic sense which meant I had to give her some direction to where to attack. "To the right!" Toph thrusted her arms, raising the ground underneath to the right. She caught five black robes, but also nearly cost us three of our own when she extended her arms outwards to throw them back. "Top Left!"
Toph just stood there. I kept on knocking down and fighting off guys, but she just stood there. She turned her head around with utter confusion. Her legs shaking in the cold despite the coats. "Top? What are you talking . . ."
I rolled my eyes, kicking down two soldier who came running at me. "Above Left Now!"
Toph slammed her foot and the warrior on the high ground was sent swimming in the canal. "Why didn't you say so?" Toph asked.
Was the cold affecting her hearing now or was it the battle? "I just did" I yelled.
Toph took and unsteady step and n early slipped. There was no way she could continue this way. "I need heat!" she called out. I knocked the guy in front of me to the ground, and used my loose hand to flash flame her feet. She let out a cry of relief. "Ahhhh, thanks . . . Hang on!" he slammed her foot and I heard a crack erupt behind me. I turned my head as the roof of a building collapsed with three archers covered in rubble. I looked around as Toph crossed her arms, smiling. "Your welcome."
I nodded and continued on with the battle. I lit my swords and unleashed my storm of fire.
I re-entered the Northern Tribe with much enthusiasm. And I was here in person, as if I would risk spirit form when I couldn't I had plenty of time to get here, and with my business concluded, I had nothing left to take of but to . . . let's say, take care of. Yes, take care of.
I burst through the doors, not with my fists or my kicks, but with the full force of the typhoon, breaking the doors straight off their hinges. Everyone reacted, waterbenders came in at all sides and attempted, I am being too lenient with that word, they walked over and tried to subdue me with, well water, what else would they do.
Shames that. They didn't stand a chance; Let's just say, don't breath in so quickly, you might get a heart attack. I made sure it was quick, then I effortlessly fanned away the unconscious bodies. Hahn stood up, raising his club. "Who dares . . . " I clicked my fist by clenching it and looked at him straight in the eyes. He dropped his club as it banged against every step. ". . . Overl-lord, S-S-Sir." I threw off my hood and smiled when the fear broke into his face. That is what I expected.
He started shaking on his seat, looking as if he was going to try and make a run for it. I raised my hand when his seating became uneasy. "Please. Don't, Get, Up. Not on my behalf. Then again, I don't think you were taking anything related to me into account. Were you?"
Hahn stared at me blankly. No doubt the bodies that were thrown carelessly at me were putting him straight off. His own fault that his words were slurring and stuttering. "I-I-. . ."
I continued taking my easy steps towards him. Keeping a relatively small pace to make this moment last longer than it has to. "Speechless are you? Dear Hahn, if I didn't know any better. I would think that you were acting illegally."
". . ." His breath started gapping. He measured it carefully. Like Long Feng, except I couldn't hear Long Feng's, while Hahn was like sky bison at night.
I rolled my right wrist clockwise, while grabbing. "But aside from this obvious coup. I think that I remember specifically saying, oh I don't know; when I planned to take this city and the surrounding lands. Aside from the, earlier date, and the loss of men, my men, that was never the intention. Everything seems to have gone according to plan."
". . ."
"If you don't remember, perhaps you remember another occasion we had a little talk; I was standing on my cliff, I took one of your men and I choked him before your eyes. You could see the oxygen was killing him and the slow purple spreading throughout his face. The gasps were like a quivering melody, before I finally let him go. Then the cliff killed him when he fell over the side."
". . ."
"What's that you're saying? Oh, no, he fell off the cliff. I merely helped. I never kill, remember. But, there's a first time for everything. Or perhaps, that opportunity already came, and the taste just hasn't found . . . the right meat."
I took another few steps closer, and pulled up my sleeves. "Do you think that I wouldn't notice all your men are wearing my robes? Sure they don't quite have the unfortunate habit of wearing the same orange and yellow robes underneath the black, but then again, that might have been the idea.
And these scars, these long red scars. Yes, that's right, the red isn't ink, it blood. Shame that I couldn't get the arrows just right, but then I wouldn't match the one on my head." I licked my index and middle finger of my right hand and wiped it over my large arrow scar from my forehead top the back of my neck. "An old friend gave this to me, I merely improved on it by expanding it." He was sweating at this point. I would have loved to have seen him wet himself, but I was on a busy schedule and I needed to wrap up business fast.
I chuckled a little as his eyes grew wider. "Why so speechless? Isn't that part of conversations? When a person gives a part of the conversation and the other half is provided in response? Or has that meaning changed in recent years?"
". . ."
I pulled my left sleeve down, but I kept my right one rolled up. I cracked my fist again, I could do it just by clenching it. The pain made it more satisfying. "A lot of things change when your not apart of the world for so long. When I was a boy, or at least when I was still physically and mentally synced, there was a race of people who could control the air currents under a glider and that allowed them to laugh at gravity. And now, there dead. People have claimed their title, but they are usurpers. They have no control over keeping themselves a float in the sky.
But I suppose that this is just a small example of how much can change. Do you know what I think hasn't changed? *THIS*!"
At his next inhale, I took control and I raised him from his seat. His eyes looked as if they would pop right out of his skull. He clawed at his neck"*HECK*HECK*HECK*HECK*"
I ascended up the stairs, slightly lowering his body as he kicked and waved his limbs frantically to try and break free. But I have a good iron grip, and he knew it. "I admired the silence, stopping your self from saying anything stupid. Idealistic. But I find it very rude. Very rude indeed."
"*HECK*HECK*HECK*" His face started swelling in pink, and a light shade of purple flushed his cheeks.
I started pacing, while holding him bound within range. "When I leave this place, I will take my army. When I take my army, only half of them will stay. The other half will be left for fodder. a sacrifice that you have forced me to play. But that should be the least of your worries. No. I don't intend on leaving anything for the Avatar to find, neither will I take a traitor back into my inner circle.
So on behalf of myself; I hope that Koh will make a better use of your face then you ever could. And believe me, you'd wish that you rented that room with the fishes at the bottom of the ocean."
His limbs started dropping and his gasping grew shorter. He wouldn't die. As I said before to him, you can't kill yourself from choking when you can still breath. Basic human instincts. I dropped his almost lifeless body, it fell nearly three meters from the ground, slumping carelessly back into the throne. His arms landing either side, dangling over the arms. His skin was pale now, but a deep violet around his face with shades of crimson and scarlet colouring the rest of his upper body past the shoulders.
I turned around, then when I heard his choking, . . . I turned again and let out the Walker from inside in a might *ROAR*!!! There was a jolt from Hahn, and then he dropped. Just dropped. Dropped. Dropped. Dropped. Dropped. Like a rock in the water.
I cracked my neck, violently twisting it to the left, then to the right while raising my shoulders accordingly, and then rotated my head counter clockwise thrice, the once clockwise.
I walked back up to the throne, picking up his helmet and fitting it back over his air choked face. Then I slumped his body up right, shame his head wouldn't stay up. But it was perfect. I left the room, stepping carelessly over the loose piles of bodies that littered the floor of the throne room. They were all still breathing. They would live, in prison knowing the mercy of weaklings. Though I couldn't say the same for Hahn. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but things weren't looking good for his weak lifeless body that hung lounged on the tribal throne.
As I left through the doors. My ears were treated to the sounds of absolute chaos. A tribe at war, and the noise of destruction and battles growing was just beautiful. But what really stung me was that I was going to lose half an army from this alone, let alone those who were already captured.
I took a step forward down the streets, wrapping my jacket to keep the cold out. Clashing steel and wood ramming each other filled the battlefield. Water being drained and flash frozen was erupting as my walk took me closer to the war zone.
I met up to an outnumbering odds with one of my warriors, draped in torn and shredded robes on top of his traditional naval blue armour. He was getting kicked around, with water. I pierced my eyes with my left index finger and thumb. This was embarrassing, for me watching it and for anyone else. I think that at this point
I walked over to him as he looked around completely dazed. He approached him and he looked up to me. His face was bruised and bloodied. A cut on the lip and a black eye. He smiled, but it was an uneasy smile, good. "Overlord!" He said. "W-wha-Wh?"
I didn't let him finish. I picked him up by his collar, despite him being maybe early twenty and me sixteen biologically, I easily took him off his feet. "You will go around this city and you will find anyone who isn't fighting or is winning and you will tell them to leave this city."
He gasped for air as his armour started digging into his neck. "Retreat? You wa-"
I slammed him against the wall. "What Did I Say! I said to get out of here. Do what I say!" I ripped the already torn robes from him and he fell straight onto the ground. He got up quickly and ran. If he didn't get killed, then I most certainly would create the scenario myself.
Then, before I could leave, I heard a sound. Not just any sound, this was specifically aimed at me;
The song. 怎 阿 苦 苏 默 宁 送, How a bitter silence awoke a peaceful giving. I heard it before. a sting struck my head scar and tingled through the rest of my arrows. I felt a deep piercing stab into the right shoulder blade, phantom of course, and another in my lower torso. I smiled with my back turned away from the song. It could only be one person, and he was awake.
I didn't need to turn. When the wind became increasingly glittered, I knew it was him standing there. "Ithar, you really haven't aged a day. Although the month seems to have begun building on you."
I looked around and there he stood. Blade in hand and near his mouth, chanting away to make sure I wasn't just an illusion that couldn't be touched. His armour returned, as did the blade, and his mask was left behind along with the rest of his costume. But it was good to see his almost drained face. Slightly malnourished from days without substance, but he seemed to be holding himself together, especially with his shaky stance in his stiff legs. He was lucky he had the Avatar and his girlfriend to keep him steady, some one at his age could break his hip, or have someone else break it for them.
He brushed his hair through his fingers and ceased playing, lowering his blade down to shoulder height and keeping it in front of himself and pointed towards me. "I would say the same. But I see that four years never gave you a different outlook on life. Then again, years means nothing to someone you had everything taken away from him. Doesn't it? Daika?"
Aang's jaw dropped and his eyes widened. Like he was a ghost. "Daika?" he exclaimed. I felt like this was something I should have background checked when I had the chance. I knew that both of them were from the Southern Air Temple, and I knew that they were both around the same age, or at least they were when they were born, but that was were the similarities ended not counting the fact that they were both airbenders. But judging from reaction alone, I could tell that they had history, and this was going to be a shocker.
"Hello Avatar." I knew that Daika knew Aang beforehand, well everyone knew who the Avatar was, but I didn't know that it was also vice versa. "Long time no see. he looked at me, but I was still a little dazed to really focus too hard on him. Nevertheless I knew enough of what I could see to tell that he was slightly hunched after our last encounter. "Ithar, have you lost weight? You're looking really refreshed." Lastly he turned to Katara, who's face had already passed shock and was recognizably angry with him. But he didn't even get round to her yet, now it was her turn. "And you. I don't know you, but I have a feeling we might get to in future." Daika knew just how to get under your skin. Even this Daika wasn't serious about what he is saying, he just relished to provoke.
"Daika" Aang asked, "what are you doing here?"
Daika brushed his cloak off. "The Wind Walker. Isn't that right Ithar? That's what people have been calling me. But to the men they call me the Marked One." Both Aang and Katara gasped at the sound of that nickname. But it meant nothing to me. I knew him and the beast inside him as the Wind walker and that was it. "However, names aren't important. I just had to, cut off a loose end."
"What are you talking about?" Katara demanded.
"Don't scare yourself like that." His eyes narrowed and his lips tightened around his grin. "You might just give yourself a heart attack."
As Daika drew his smile. Aang dropped my arm and stepped forward. I pulled my arm in front of him and I threw myself to my feet. "No Aang" I told him, pulling him back and pulling myself forward. "I've got this. This is my fight."
"But you're exhausted. You barely had the strength to get up. It's okay to sit out."
"Find the rest of the group. If you can take back the city then we've won. This fight is personal. I can handle it."
"Ithar . . . *Blink*" I didn't notice but, Aang was blinking strangely. It seemed to be painful for him. He lost his sense of balance the moment he blink and Katara had to catch him.
She took him back up, looked up at me as I nodded to her and leaned my head to the right. She nodded back, and took Aang's hand. "Aang, let him do it."
Aang turned his head in reluctance. "But Ka-"
"Let's find everyone else. Let him handle this."
Daika took his steps very lightly, not like an airbender, but like someone who was confident in his actions. Smug, and cocky. He pulled a smile that really made me feel unsettled, wiping over his face like he was checking to see if he was bleeding or not. Then he looked at me with those very white, yet pinkish eyes. And the dark silver eyes, the black cloud in a clearness, and dangerous morning sky.
He took his left index and middle finger and made a back hand 'v' sign that he slid up his forehead and over his scar, then flicked his hand to the right side. "My old friend. I was wondering when you'd get up to see me. You never one to sleep on the job."
I kept my lips clamped and stopped them going crooked. But I couldn't stop myself piercing into his cheek filled smile. I kept my tone down and my breath controlled. "Times change, and so do people. You know that better then most."
He pressed his right hand over his heart sarcastically. "*Ssss* You hurt me Ithar. Couldn't come give me hug for old times sake. It's been what? four years since that night. There's a thing called moving on I'm sure you should be familiar with."
"Four years means nothing to me. a hundred years obviously meant nothing to you. I don't even care about ten thousand years, but what matters to me is that you stop what you are doing."
"How does it make you feel Ithar? Fate, destiny, which ever Ni you talk to, you know that it will happen no matter what we do. You ran and hid, while I make the most out of my destiny, and what I saw is me rising above the extinction of my people! I will rebuild this world, and it will be of my image!"
"Insanity spawns from being around someone insane for too long! So who is to blame?"
"I trusted you, I saved you, you were my friend! My best friend, I treated you like a brother! You were my brother!"
"It's all about balance Ithar! You told me that, you told me that everything has an opposite reaction to balance it out; The whole hundred years of war would eventually be met with peace. It happened. You were right. One of the only times you were right.
You saved my life, so I had to take one. An eye for an eye. But being nothing but ash really makes you feel so unstable. Your mothers people bend ash, and the whole your father's people create it. Balance, then there's you; Flute Warrior, and me; Wind Walker.
Do you know what makes us balance? You make music using the wind, But I Control It!"
"Not this time. You've become too predictable." I pulled in the void and punched it in his direction. Daika airbent into a spiral and the void disintegrated into thin air.
"You have to breath at some point" he yelled at me, unleashing the air spiral into the ground, splintering me in a shower of ice debris. I raised void over my face and upper torso, but got hit in the legs. Knocking me to the ground.
Daika leapt in, but I rolled away. The air smashed into the ground, shattering the ice. I rolled to my feet but my footing was slightly unstable. I rubbed my legs of, and I nudged my arm against my waist. I had a plan;
I ran in and forced him back in a wave of void that knocked his balance. I took a quick breath while he regained himself for a counterattack from mid air. I cut through the air and slipped into the void. I reappeared in a matter of seconds with a refreshed breath. "Out of your reach" I told him.
"Tricks won't save you."
"But I might just have a few more tricks up my sleeves."
"Same here." I unsheathed out my dagger and twisted the handle with some difficulty. His eyes widened and he cringed in fear. I placed my dagger to my lips and blew. I played a note, expecting the hollow windy sound, but instead there was a trumpeting sound. Now my eyes widened. I twisted it the wrong way.
Daika no longer looked in fear. I tried to twist it the other way, but the handle was frozen shut. Daika could see me struggling to move it, and he took full advantage. He blasted me with a handful of air that knocked my dagger from my hand, the hit me again and threw me against the wall of a house.
He then released the beast inside. His eyes went pale grey and rolled inside his head as he curled into his meditation state. Legs crossed and arms locked. His scar glowed blood red and his mouth opened wide like his jaw would drop off. Then, a dark grey transparent light gripped its way from his mouth. A long and bony like arm reached out and then another. A deformed and carnivorous head popped out roaring in terror, until the whole corpse like body of the Wind Walker was released.
Now it was I who was scared. I rolled over and grabbed my dagger. I continued to struggle as I tried to twist the handle, but I couldn't. I raised my dagger and tried to attack, but I passed right through him. I unleashed a volley of void, but again, met the same results as before. The Walker roared and whacked me aside. I picked up the dagger again, and I just started playing March of the Dragon. I was out of options, and the walker wasn't affected by any of my attacks.
The walker closed in on me, digging its claws into the ice, snarling and bare its teeth. I closed my eyes and prepared for impact. The walker bellowed and my footing started slipping as I fell back against the building. Then when it was close enough it swung its tail at me. I reached the chorus, and suddenly, the tail smacked against something.
I opened my eyes, and walker tried to claw at me with all six legs, but it could not touch me. I took a step forward, and the walker tried resisting against what ever was protecting me. I stopped playing, and the walkers legs hit the ground. I stared at my dagger, bit for a brief moment as the Walker became aware of the change in events. Placing it back against my lips, I played the same part over and over again. The force restarted pushing the Walker back.
I continued playing the chorus while taking steps forward against him. The melody continuing to force him back. The walker was backing away. I then let out a last note that pushed the Walker back into Daika's body, as his eyes returned and his body collapsed in front of me. "Gah!"
I kicked him down and placed my dagger at his throat. "You could never beat me. You always resorted to underhand tactic. The least you could have done was to look at me in the eyes before you stabbed me in the back. After what you did, what you still continued to do. It was all because of her. It was about what I did. You couldn't let it go, could you?
My friend, you died the day you betrayed me. The person I see before me is a corpse."
Daika, though weak, pulled a smile in pain. He cracked his jaw and leered me as he smugly answered. "You know nothing. It was you who told me that events are predetermined and beyond our control. So ask yourself this; who's fighting the timeline, who is really fighting this timeline? Me? Or You?" I lost control of my anger, and he could easily see it. My face was red and hot and my vision started blurring. "Temper, temper. The last time that happened, I got away. This time, it's on my terms, not yours."
He breathed and exhaled. I then collapsed into the snow. I looked around, and Daika was gone. His body just vanished, and I had my dagger was now just stabbed into the ice under my feet.
He got away, again. SPIRITS!
The battle raged on. The dawns early lights continued to grow over the horizon, and snow and smoke were one. I think I saw Aang at one point, wearing a very dark coat, but I was preoccupied with trying to keep myself alive in the heat of battle.
I reached Suki, just in time to club a guy from behind her. She turned her head in surprise. "Sokka . . ."
"You can thank me later" I told her turning my back onto hers and keeping several black cloaks from reaching us. Boomerang made a chain knock out on several occasions, but Club really needed to pick up his game. He's not the same as Space Sword was. I miss him sometimes. I miss Space Sword a lot.
"Sokka. We're losing."
I turned around, deliberately swinging Club into the face of an oncoming enemy. "What?"
"There's too many of them. We're getting beat out here. We're not enough." "Sokka, we have to retreat."
"We're not. We are winning."
I turned to whack round another hostile round the head before Suki pulled me back in. She finished with three guys (mine was bigger, but I'm not keeping count) before continuing. "They have all the positions. We are taking casualties. We might . . ."
"No!" I interrupted "we can win. We will win. No retreats this time. We stay and we see this through."
She pointed out towards the bulk of the city. "Sokka. We're not even at the throne room yet. We can't break through. If we can't get to Hahn . . . then how do we win?"
I didn't know how to answer that. What could I say. I stopped and took a look around, and she was right; every second we were bombarded with more troops despite funneling them down through the narrow streets. The canals made no difference to waterbenders, and we didn't have as many to counter them.
I looked up in distress, rubbing my face as the snow landed softly upon my face. Wiping my face down I rubbed my palms together. Suki was right, if we stayed, we would not see the daylight for a long time. I couldn't make the same mistakes as last time. As much as I wanted and knew that this army would keep on fighting for their homeland, there wouldn't be an army to avenge them if we were all captured.
I reached over my back for Boomerang, preparing to use it to signal our retreat, if there was anywhere to retreat from here. Grabbing it with my left hand, I passed it to my right, but then, I noticed something . . . peculiar; I looked across my palm, and there was a large coal grey smudge across it. I looked all over Boomerang, and noticed tat it was on my right palm as well.
I didn't know where it came from, till, I thought to wipe my face with right index and middle finger. I pulled it off and it showed a much the same thing, but it was darker and much more drippy. then, a piece of black fell into my palm. Then another, and another. I turned to Suki. "Do you feel that?"
"No, what . . . oh!" A piece of black ice fell across her face, the black mixing slightly into the make up on her cheek. She wiped it off and looked at it.
I looked up at the sky, as a soft rain shower of black ice fell across the landscape. One caught me under my eye, and I caught it quickly. The ice melted in my palm. "Snow? Is it snow?"
"It's black. Black snow?"
"Black snow?" Could it be? It was all like a memory now, but this was never a good sign. It was the one thing that growing up at war would ever scare me. The ash mixed into the ice, falling upon your faces, and the image of iron ships pumping smoke into the sky appearing across the horizon. "Black snow. Black Snow!" I looked around for somewhere facing south, south, and a higher ground. I noticed part of a building collapsed and started running towards it. "It couldn't? Could it?"
I pulled myself on top of the building, and there across the horizon, my fears had been answered. But I wasn't scarred, what I saw gave me the opposite feeling. I felt hopeful, no more than hopeful. I was . . . renewed. "We can win. We can win! Thank you spirits with your all spirit-y-ness. Thank You!"
"What? Why?" Suki asked, clambering up the slope.
I grabbed her and pulled her in closer. Pointing my arms out to the sight beyond the rolling mists. "Look out there! Tell me you can see this."
She squinted her eyes, for a good few seconds, before they shot wide open. Her battle weariness was revitalized with a new sense of hope. "No, is that?"
The red flags on the iron ships were no lie. It was not something that could be denied. "The Fire Nation Navy. The Fire Nation is here! The Fire Nation Is Here! We Can Win!" I took Suki's hand and raised my club. "Let's do it." I yelled, sliding down the slope, ready to take the throne room.
We kicked down the doors and prepared for a fight in the throne room. "Alright Hahn. We're here!" . . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
There, was nothing here. No attack. No ambush. Nothing. Except the dark of he room encasing a horror atmosphere.
"There's no one else here?" I said, lowering my fans. I took steps forwards, and there were traces of dents in the ground, but I wasn't entirely sure that these were new.
I looked up at Sokka, who was showing equal amounts of confusion. But I saw that his sight was fixated on an armoured body sitting on the throne. "Is he asleep?" I asked, leaning in closer to him, whispering close to his ear.
I didn't want to wait and find out, I took a few steps forward, only for Sokka to stick his arm out to prevent me from advancing any further. "Hold it. It could be a trick. An ambush." He slowly reached for his boomerang and swung it at Hahn. the weapon pinged off his armour and jumped down the steps. Hahn's body moved slightly, leaning forward. We flinched back, but he didn't move any further. "Wow he's good."
We heard something stumble around the outside of the building. A few warriors were thrown sliding across the entrance, before they stumbled to their feet and ran off. crashing foot steps came walking in. A huge shadow fell onto the room, and it belonged to our blind friend. "Where are we?"
"Toph?" I exclaimed. "Where did you-?"
"The cold finally broke through. I lost track of Zuko after a while."
"We're in the throne room" Sokka explained, walking over and grabbing her hand. "We're trying to work out about-"
Toph pushed Sokka away. "Hang on" she told us, raising her foot and slamming it against the ground. We waited for a reaction, but Toph's face remained blank. She slammed her foot again, and waited. A third slam and she then lowered her foot. She shook her head, and her tone became very dark. "There's no heartbeat."
Our eyes widened. Our jaws dropped. Our minds in disbelief. "Why are you guys standing around?" We turned our heads slowly looking towards Aang and Katara. We didn't need to say a thing, we all just pointed towards the throne where Hahn's body was laying. "What about him?" Aang asked, slamming his foot to activate seismic sense. His whole face dropped at that moment. "Oh." The face was contagious as it spread onto Katara's when she put the pieces together.
"What happened?" Zuko's voice came in, but he didn't need explanation. He saw Hahn unmoving and our faces told the story better than explaining it ever could. "Spirits help us."
Ithar came storming in, slightly limping, but his face was fierce. We all turned to him. This was the third time "He got away! What? Why is-?" He stopped and looked up to the throne, and the body slumped over it. He raised his hand and wiped it across his sight. It glowed gold and his expression dropped. He repeated this a couple of times, but with the same results. He dropped his arms and just stood there. We all turned our heads at the sight that none of us could have ever expected. The last thing that we ever really wanted.
Gah! I couldn't get that far. That dunderhead Ithar, I knew I should not have let the Walker out. I still hadn't recovered from the last time he attacked me. He wasn't the only one who was 'stabbed in the back'.
I looked around, and I was in the prison hold. Every cell I walked by was empty. Doors left carelessly open and halfway across their hinges. All of them except one.
I stood in front of the only occupied cell, crossed my hand behind my back. With Hahn cut loose, I needed a new waterbender. And I could not think of anyone better than the deceiver and manipulator himself. I needed brains, not brawn. I had enough brawn, and now I had my new set of brains.
Shen turned his head, he had not been aware of my presence at this point and was shocked to see me as he turned. "Who are you."
I raised both sets of eyebrows sarcastically. Smiling in my explanation, but in a menacing expression. "I am the monster that hides in the night. The nightmare that lives in your breath." I rubbed my knuckles against my cloak. "I'm sure everyone has been talking about me."
Shen's face remained expressionless. He seemed less than amused by what I was telling him. That would need to be broken into him at some point. "I don't know who you are."
"Let me make it clearer for you; I am the guy who saved your brother's life."
Shen's eyes widened as he reached over towards the bars. "You saved Hahn?"
"That is correct." I breathed in and the exhaled in a quick breath, passing right through the bars. Shen jumped back and landed on the floor in complete shock. Good, but maybe scaring him is too premature. I offered my hand to him. "And now I am here to save you."
Shen remained motionless. "What about Hahn?"
I stood back up and backed through the bars. Leaning in with my face pressed into the ice I gave him the only answer that he needed. "Dead."
His face went pale and stretched in all corners so much that he had nothing left to move. "Dead?"
I cracked my neck. My tone was grave, and it did what it served. I just needed to procure certain elements into my response, using limited knowledge that can easily be twisted. "Dead. By the hands of an airbender. A very powerful airbender. Choked the life out of him, the let him suffer in silence."
Clever Shen, or should I say un-clever, made the answer I wanted him to make. "The Avatar?" I didn't need to approve his answer, he just fell forward, tears building up in his bloodshot eyes, and his voice lacking nasal exhaling as the time moved on. "No. No, No, No! NO! I'll kill him." Hello, what have we here? "I'll kill him and his friends. I'll kill everyone one of them. Eighteen times over, one for everyone of Hahn's years." Imaginative, idealistic, and perfectly procured.
"Patience" I replied, holding my hand up. His new found rage would need a guiding hand to keep him calm. "The Fire Nation has reached these shores and your brother's army is being defeated as we speak." I reoffered the hand to him through the bars. "If you accept, I will promise you revenge, and what is rightfully yours. All I ask in return is to follow me with absolute loyalty as your brother would. Do you accept these terms, Shen?"
There was no hesitation. blinded in anger and misjudgment, he immediately grabbed and clawed into my hand, pulling himself up as he answered to my offer. "I accept."
I smiled. "Your brother would be proud."
With the Fire Nation Navy boarded up in newly made ports. We set ourselves on an overlook back on the cliffs, just watching the sun rise further into the sky. Suki was under Sokka's arm and both of them huddled up together with her leaning against him. Toph was leaning also, but against Ithar, much to his confusion, occasionally shuffling a bit away, only for her to just lean further. Zuko rejoined us after talking with his naval forces below, and Aang and I were huddled as well, with our arms over each other.
Soon, Palagaq came to meet with us. He approached us as we all turned to face him. Setting on one knee he said, "thank you. All of you. Once again you have saved this tribe."
"You don't have to thank us," Aang replied.
My brother on the other hand wasn't so humble. "Actually, is there a reward?" Part of the protocol, Toph punched Sokka, who fell face first into the ice. "Ow!" "Thank you, Toph. He deserved it this time."
Palagaq stared as this happened, but continued on with what he was saying. "Um, I have made an important decision. During the battle, Qaniit was put in critical injury and has likewise been made obsolete, so I have decided, and it has all been agreed upon, that I will be taking on the responsibilities, as Crown Prince of the Water Tribe."
I gasped. "Really? But I thought you didn't want it."
"I thought that you were humble for not taking such a high position" Aang also reminded us.
"I don't want it" he replied. "But I feel that I am obliged. I feel like it's my duty, more then it was my right. If can do more to help people then I know that I can be a good chief one day. I also want to make sure that my family stays safe, my uncle, my cousins, my wife and my future child."
Sokka pulled his face out from the snow, making a groaning response. "Well, that's . . . good for . . . you."
Palagaq stared down at him. "Is he alright?" he asked me, which to be honest I didn't exactly. I know I said he deserved it, but he seemed to be in a lot of pain.
Ithar walked over and grabbed Sokka's collar, forcing Sokka to stand back on his two feet. "He'll be fine." *Slap* Ithar patted Sokka on the back, but what should have been a light tap, exploded in gold dust against Sokka's back, and he fell straight back over. Ithar flinched and tucked his hand "Sorry."
Sokka picked his face up from the snow, again. A disgusted expression loomed over him. Standing back up and brushing the snow from his coat. "I'm always the guinea pig to benders. Why?"
Toph gave him the short answer: "Because it's cruel to try it out on Suki. You, it's funny"
As the two continued to argue. My mind was still fixated on three names; Daika, the airbender who attacked the tribe. Tulia, the waterbender from my dreams. And Ithar. Ithar the voidbender, standing amongst us. He was the link. But, what will happen next? Daika failed today, but what about the next time he comes? What about the next time?
"Gentlemen" I said, walking out of the shadows and into the middle of the light. Long Feng had been here before in the center gathered around the open sky light in the temple's room. Now there was the four of us. I took my place upon the airbending symbol on the floor, as was Long Feng on the earthbending, Shen on the waterbending, and my new general took his place on the firebending one.
I want to say right now that, I am undecided whether I like the addition to my group. Shen I didn't mind, in fact I applauded his arrival; Hahn was more brawn then brains, while the kid brother was obviously more smarts, and I needed smarts more than I would ever need to use others brawn. My new friend, very loosely, . . . how could I put it: I, thought of him, as rather . . . incompetent. As a governor I would have expected him to have good management skills, until I did my research and found what I thought was false.
I could have easily have found someone else, but what I found with him was invaluable; support. My new guy had support, and lots of it from a lot of people ticked off at the end of the war, most firebenders. All had good maintenance skills that I would need later, and they had fire power, which I needed now.
"In spite of some . . . deep losses. I would like to congratulate this defeat as a trial run. This was not planned, and despite it was clearly against . . . my best wishes. Commander Hahn took his men and he held the north for a fortnight. In totalitarian unity he held the Northern Water Tribe under his iron fist. A truly glorious triumph for our order.
I patted Shen on the back as my words cut deep into him. Still sore on the subject on his brother. "Sadly, the Avatar killed him by the dawns early lights, and his armies spilled good men that day, leaving us less in numbers.
But in Hahn's closed door has opened a new one, that seeks revenge for his demise. That comes in the form of his brother, Shen. Our new Waterbending Commander. Welcome to our inner circle, brother."
A short round of applause echoes through the room. The men that stood at the edges of the circle in the temple clapped in unison to welcoming my new general to the order. "Your brother can never be replaced, but you will do better then he ever could. Do him proud."
Shen hung his head high, like he was trying to be a man. Holding back his pain, and resorting to anger that he kept bottle in all but his face. Staring into space, no doubt imagining defeating the Avatar. I was going to enjoy his contribution to our cause, it wasn't a hunch. I knew it.
"And now, we have a new member. And so all will hear, our cycle is complete: Air, Mwah, Daika-lo, Daika the Changeling, the Marked One, the Wind Walker, Spirit of Ideal, despite all these names, there is only one you should refer to me as: The Overlord.
Water, Shen of the Northern Tribe, the Commander, no, scratch that; your brothers title must remain with him to his grave, and thus a new name must rise from his ashes. I name thee, the Commissioner.
Earth, Long Feng of Ba Sing Se, the Minister. And now; Fire, Tongzhi of Capital City, the Governor."
Tonzhi was somewhat the same age as Long Feng, but had less of a politicians grace. Understandable considering the warlike state the Fire Nation was in his days. His side burns were a withering dark shade of grey that followed up to his top knot. He gained a little weight from when I last saw him, but I think it made a better improvement, as well as reducing his beard, leaving it hooked at his jaw line to point to his chin, and never meet. He had the look that just made him passable.
"For all of you who may not know; this is all that is needed. We each have a piece of ourselves known only amongst each other; I, was born 102 years ago, surviving by living in the dimension between the physical and spiritual worlds. The new Commissioner wanted control of the Northern Water Tribe, so he eliminated his competition to try and seize the throne legally. The Minister held control over the entire city of Ba Sing Se for more then twenty years, holding the strings over the Earth King and kept him oblivious to. And the Governor had a daughter, . . . and she dated the Firelord."
- "How a bitter silence awoke a peaceful giving", the song played by Ithar, was last played in " ".
- The Fire Nation Navy's arrival by sign of black snow is a reference to the last time they attacked the Northern Water Tribe in "The Siege of the North, Part 1".
- Yue was last seen in "The Awakening".
- While Tui and La were not seen since "The Siege of the North, Part 2".
- Ithar regains his bending after losing it in " ".
- The tune of How a bitter silence awoke a peaceful giving, the second song played by Ithar, is heavily based and inspired by a music video made byGenesis VII on YouTube.com.
- The Chinese rough translation 怎 阿 苦 苏 默 宁 送, spells out "Zen Aku Summoning Song" in pronunciation, as a tribute to the tunes origin.
- This is the first time Daika's name is ever mentioned, despite being labeled on the homepage since 6th October 2013.
For the collective works of the author, go here.